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Talk Porty ~ Portobello • View topic - Rathbone's Ramblin'

Rathbone's Ramblin'

General discussion - "gossip and tittle tattle"

Re: Rathbone's Ramblin'

Postby rathbone » 20 Jun 2012, 07:23

There was someone at our local craft market trying to sell furniture made out of old pipes and plumbing fixtures as if this was something new. Come on. Tom Dixon and Ron Arad were doing that sort of stuff thirty years ago. It was one way to screw cash out of the recession. They would rag pick their way through scrapyards, stripping down old cars and recycling the parts into ‘cult’ objects with names like the Rover Chair and the Aerial Light.

You could quite easily trace what they were doing back to Punk. Punk unleashed a DIY ethic where anything was up for grabs. I’m thinking here about the trend for attaching anything and everything to your ripped t-shirt and calling it punk. Badges, buttons, bottle tops, beer mats and bus tickets, I’ve seen them all stapled to clothes in my time.

Tom Dixon took the whole idea one step further when he set up the Drive In Demolition Derby in 1984. These were ‘normal’ warehouse club nights where in one corner he would stand making junk sculpture armed only with his welding gear and copious amounts of beer. It was probably the first time that clubbers risked being blinded if they stood too close to the DJ.

Someone with no formal training, Dixon had learned how to weld in order to fix his motorbike and at the time was better known as the bass player in Funkapolitan. To his surprise people bought the stuff he made, so he opened a shop selling his own stuff and that made by friends. By the end of the millennium he was head of design at Habitat. He now runs the Design Research Studio.

Inspiration for Creative Porty I think
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Re: Rathbone's Ramblin'

Postby rathbone » 21 Jun 2012, 07:22

The little slogan I use at the bottom of these pieces of ephemera comes originally from John Cage, but it could equally have come from Mark E. Smith who is a man with only one thing to say and is determined to say it over and over again (usually indecipherably).

I dearly love The Fall but it has been a constant source of wonder that a) they are still around and b) that Mark E. Smith is still with us, both physically and mentally. To use his own phrase, he now has a face like an un-made bed.

To say that they are still around is relative. Mark E. Smith is still around, as is a band called The Fall, but since they started in 1976 there have been 66 members come and go. The Fall has always been composed of transient line-ups whose common denominators have been venom, fist-fights and resentment.


Mr. Smith is notorious for the range of things that he doesn’t like and the outspoken way he goes about telling the world he doesn’t like them. He’s not a man who suffers fools gladly. Legend has it that he once fired a sound man for having ordered a salad. The targets of his invective have included shit pubs, Alan Shearer, people who opposed the Falklands War, J.R.R. Tolkien and dogs.A tirade is his default position. If he had been in The Smiths he would have written ‘heaven knows I’m miserable now’.

The positive side of all that negativity is the brilliance and range of the songs that spring from it. 35 years on we now have 33 albums to prove it. It’s hard to describe the essence of the Fall’s music. At the risk of being even more pretentious than I usually am, it’s the aural equivalent of that scene with the night vision goggles at the end of Silence Of The Lambs, a bit monochrome, a bit spooky but you know it’s just a device. It’s intimidating, but knows that it’s intimidating and knows that you know that it knows.Despite his deadly cynicism and bile Smith’s lyrics are, above all, in awe of and fascinated with playing with language.

The watchword of all those albums is repetition, repetition, repetition. (Let’s not forget that the b-side of their first single back in 1978 was called ‘Repetition’ and did just that for five minutes).

It’s usually Mark E. Smith who gets all the attention, but spare a listen to the drummer, Si Wolstencroft, who kept the beat through thick and thin for over eleven years, longer than any other band member. Before that he had been the original drummer in the Smiths. On the side he was quite a nifty songwriter as well ..... check out the credits on your old Ian Brown records. Brown and Wolstencroft appears more than once.

As John Peel once said, The Fall are always different, yet always the same.
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Re: Rathbone's Ramblin'

Postby rathbone » 22 Jun 2012, 07:21

I was reading in the Liverpool Echo about a recent Labour party fund-raising event which was attended by both Alistair Campbell and Derek Hatton. From the platform Campbell advised the gathering that “Derek Hatton shook my hand. The last time I saw him I think he spat in my face.”

Who remembers Degsy, the ex fireman who had his fifteen minutes of fame sitting on breakfast t.v. couches telling the nation about marxism as he knew it?

Back in the 80s Derek Hatton was a councillor on Liverpool City Council. He held that position as a member of the Labour Party, but was actually a leading light of The Militant Tendency, who were a Trotskyist group. By 1985 he was deputy leader of the Council, though it was clear that he was manipulating the leader, John Hamilton, and calling the shots. The council deliberately set an illegal budget some £30 million in excess of their income, which led to huge redundancies from the council’s work force, with officials notoriously driving around Liverpool in taxis handing out redundancy notices. There was a big dust up at the Labour Party conference and Hatton was expelled from the Party.

In 1993 he went on trial accused of corruption during his time on the council, but was found not guilty.

Undaunted, Degsy wooed the media, becoming a celebrity on a whole range of television programmes and a commentator on BBC radio. He currently works as a motivational speaker through his company Rippleffect.

It seems that he now wants to get back into politics, hence the attendance at the fund raising event, but is giving out mixed messages. In one article he says that he is still firmly on the left and that Labour needs to back away from capitalism. In another he is going on about his various companies (apart from Rippleffect, he is into property development) and the fact that he has just spent £60,000 on a car. In a third he comments that he intends to stand as deputy leader of the Labour Party and says that he is no longer a trotskyist.

As the Liverpool Echo recently pointed out, he shares his birthday with Al Capone and Keith Chegwin.
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Re: Rathbone's Ramblin'

Postby rathbone » 23 Jun 2012, 07:23

I came across my old MA1 Flight Jacket the other day, in a suitcase in the loft. I originally bought it in an army surplus shop which used to be half way down Leith Walk but is now long gone. I’d got it to wear at an Art College dance, and sprayed it gold. Most of the paint has worn off over the intervening years, but you can still make out traces in the creases. I might start wearing it again.

The MA1s were the genuine article, developed during the second world war to keep fighter pilots warm on their bombing sorties. Long after I bought mine they became fashionable with the skinhead fraternity and after them the ersatz mods of the quadrophenia revival. It was around that point that they moved out of army surplus into the mainstream.

They quickly became part of a uniform that included black DMs, black Levis and white t-shirts. It was as if Marlon Brando had never been away. B-Boys, Retro-trendies and ex-Soul Boys grabbed the style and began to customise it with soviet emblems, cartoon characters, car emblems and slogans. You could go into any steaming club on a friday night and watch them half kill themselves because they refused to take off their N2B heavy duty MA1 jackets with the coyote fur lined hoods and the button down wind flaps, no matter how hot it was.

John Paul Gaultier started dressing his cat walk models in MA1s and the whole thing spiralled into nonsense. The jackets evolved in ever more dazzling shades and imitations, each copy adding different fabrics and colours and by the time Brother Beyond had appropriated the jackets they were the only ones still wearing them.
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Re: Rathbone's Ramblin'

Postby rathbone » 24 Jun 2012, 07:22

Three friends had a bit of a night out at The Foresters. One of them ended up a bit the worse for wear and the other two helped to carry him home.

They quietly let themselves into the house with their friend’s key and laid him on the settee to sleep it off, not wanting to wake his wife.

On the way out through the kitchen they noticed that the wife had left some turkey giblets in a bowl on the work surface and decided to play a practical joke on their mate. They unzipped their friend’s fly and zipped it up again with the turkey neck hanging out.

The next morning, the wife came down stairs to be greeted with the sight of her husband, unconscious on the settee with the cat sitting on his chest munching happily away. She was so shocked she fainted.
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Re: Rathbone's Ramblin'

Postby rathbone » 25 Jun 2012, 07:22

The youngest Rathbonette has this perverse idea that she will one day get me to stand up in the Town Inn and humiliate myself on the karaoke machine. As she says: There's thousands of great songs to choose from too. It's almost too good to be true. Everyone thinks they can sing, however badly, and this is your chance to do just that.

I have never quite understood why people get off on making complete fools of themselves in public, yet it is undeniable that it only took an instant after japanese restaurants in London first introduced their own karaoke machines for the pub chains to realise that the British were ideally suited to this particular form of reputational kamikaze. Clubs like ‘I Lovee Karaoke Very Muchee’ ( a genuine club - I kid you not) opened up for the hardcore devotee. Very briefly there was even a Karaoke t.v. programme on Channel 4 called Karaoke Klub where you could go on television and humiliate yourself in front of millions.

In the privacy of your own computer you can download karaoke from i-tunes at just 59p a pop. On You Tube you can access the Karaoke Channel and select the style of your choice. (Tourettes Karaoke is my favourite.)

And it can be dangerous. Apparently, murder has become such a common result after a poor performance of “My Way” in the Philippines, that it warrants its own subcategory of crime: “My Way Killings”.The killings have produced urban legends about the song and left Filipinos groping for answers. Are the killings the natural byproduct of the country’s culture of violence, drinking and machismo? Or is there something inherently sinister in the song?
Proably not. Most of the “My Way” killings have reportedly occurred after the singer sang out of tune, causing other patrons to laugh or jeer. Just like the Town Inn really.
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Re: Rathbone's Ramblin'

Postby rathbone » 26 Jun 2012, 07:23

The youngest Rathbonette and my soon to be son-in-law spent the weekend up to their eyeballs in mud at some festival or other. I wasn’t particularly interested in the mud, the discomfort, the escape into booze to deaden the pain, or even the music. Been there, done that, far too often. What I wanted to know more about was the big sculptures made out of bits of old cars. It sounded as though the Mutoid Waste Company was back.

For a while I was getting worried that the Mutoids were disappearing off the scene.

In the days when I used to sit in muddy fields the Mutoids became famous for building giant welded sculptures from waste materials and for customising broken down cars, as well as making large scale murals in the disused buildings where they held their parties. I have really fond memories of Car Henge – a towering artwork built from scrapped cars.

And those parties were something else with the inevitable result that after a number of police raids they were forced to leave the country and travel to Germany where they became notorious for building giant sculptures out of old machinery. Soon a giant Robot sculpture made from a VW Beetle towered over the Berlin Wall. In Italy they set up a scrap village called Mutonia and continued working, displaying and performing.

Then they started to live on the road as authentic urban gypsies, selling their mutated junk art to galleries. It began with a convoy to Amsterdam, Paris and Berlin. Europe wasn’t prepared… the Mutoid invasion was victorious and their positive party message spread Europe. Soon you could find Mutoid artifacts from Pilton, to abandoned warehouses in Kings Cross and from Berlin to the deserts of Arizona.

The LS Diesel Crew and others kept the West London connection strong by building sculptural floats for the Nottinghill Carnival, as well as a host of other scrap artworks that the Mutoids drew together. The most audacious was a MiG 21 Fighter Jet which was ‘liberated’ by the Mutoids in their guise as ‘The Lost Tribe of MiG’. They took the jet plane on a rave tour.

Last I heard of them was in 2001 when they were exporting their unique style to Japan, so I am glad to hear that they may be back.
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Re: Rathbone's Ramblin'

Postby rathbone » 27 Jun 2012, 07:30

I started the Poem of the Week thread last September because I love poetry and hoped that other people might as well. I know that a lot of people have difficulty with poetry. Partly it’s because we are indoctrinated at school into believing that there is ‘deep meaning’ in poetry and that we have to work out the poet’s metaphors and symbolism. Bollocks. Just take any poem, read it the way the words are written on the page, and leave it at that. If it resonates with you, brilliant. If it doesn’t, then it doesn’t. So what?

Apart from one sarcastic comment at the start, wondering what medication I was on, I’ve had no feedback, so I have assumed that the thirty or so people who look at it every week are getting something out of the poems I put up there.

So, when things do resonate and prompt someone to give me feedback, it’s gratefully received. Thanks Andy, glad you liked the Tony Harrison.

Tony Harrison is a good example of just reading the poem and taking it for what it is. Resolutely working class, he was born in Leeds. His father was a baker. Tony was bright and became the first in his family to go to University. A lot of his poetry is about the conflict that inevitably arises between maintaining working class roots while pursuing the aspirations that social mobility forces on you.

What I like about his poetry is that it is absolutely direct. That sometimes gets him into difficulties. His 1987 poem ‘V’ about the Miners’ Strike drew howls of outrage from the tabloid press, some broadsheet journalists, and MPs. Gerald Howarth M.P. said that Harrison was "Probably another bolshie poet wishing to impose his frustrations on the rest of us". When told of this, Harrison retorted that Howarth was "Probably another idiot MP wishing to impose his intellectual limitations on the rest of us". The whole thing led to an early day motion to have the poem banned being proposed by a group of Conservative MPs in the Commons, probably the only time this has happened to a poet.

I enjoy feedback, (after all this is supposed to be a social networking site) so don’t be afraid to give it. (My wife frequently asks me why I keep doing this blog every morning. My usual response is that it give me a sense of satisfaction to know that a larger audience is ignoring my work.)

Post your favourite poems. Share.

And, Andy, just as a wee reward:

TURNS
Tony Harrison

I thought it made me look more 'working class'

(as if a bit of chequered cloth could bridge that gap!)

I did a turn in it before the glass.

My mother said: It suits you, your dad's cap.

(She preferred me to wear suits and part my hair:

You're every bit as good as that lot are!) 



All the pension queue came out to stare.

Dad was sprawled beside the postbox (still VR) ,

his cap turned inside up beside his head, 
smudged
H A H in purple Indian ink
and Brylcreem slicks displayed
so folks might think
he wanted charity for dropping dead.



He never begged. For nowt! Death's reticence

crowns his life, and me, I'm opening my trap

to busk the class that broke him for the pence

that splash like brackish tears into our cap.
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Re: Rathbone's Ramblin'

Postby rathbone » 28 Jun 2012, 07:33

Just carrying on from yesterday, I have long felt that this site has enormous potential for the community in Portobello (and its diaspora) which is not being met. That was the reason I suggested starting up a Creative Porty thread back in January.

Culturally Portobello has always been a dynamic place. There are people who write novels and short stories (I know, I’ve read them.) There are people who make music (I’ve heard them). There are people who paint. (Cove sells them). There are people who dance, who act and who make things. I am sure there are people doing exciting things which can’t even be categorised in this simple way. All of this is incredibly positive, but little of it surfaces on this site.

This website used to be incredibly positive as well. In recent times that has changed. I suspect I’m not the only person who thinks ‘and not for the better’. To paraphrase Ricky Gervais, if it was a wild west saloon, the entire place is only one spilt drink away from kicking off. It has become primarily a battleground. Even when Bob Jefferson tried to get a Positive Porty** thread going it degenerated into vitriol and name calling to such an extent that Wangi had to close it down. (Isn’t it telling that it ended up in Gossip and Tittle Tattle? Isn’t it even more telling that we have a whole forum called Gossip and Tittle Tattle in the first place?)

We can change that. There is a place for debate on the School, and any other matters that effects Portobello, but it is our fault if we let it crowd out all of the other positive things that are happening. Start posting the positive things you are doing in Portobello. This is a vibrant community, let’s demonstrate that to each other and the world.

Now for the vested interest. Last month I mentioned the book I was writing and asked if anyone wanted to help me by reading the penultimate draft and letting me have objective criticism. Thanks to those of you who took up that challenge. It will be winging its way to you soon. However the more critics the better.

If you don’t know the answer to any of the following questions then “Ain’t No Surf In Portobello - A Subjective History of the Edinburgh Music Scene” may be just what you need:

1. Which Portobello group used to parade around in American football gear and codpieces labelled ‘no entry’?

2. What was the name of The Valves fanzine and how much did it cost?

3. Who was told he would never be famous because everybody knew who he was?

4. Of which group was it said “These girls could drink a German trawler crew under the
table” ?

5. What did Blak Flag ultimately become?

If you want to find out pm me.


** Just for clarification, the thread I am referring to is the 'Identities' one.
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Re: Rathbone's Ramblin'

Postby rathbone » 29 Jun 2012, 07:25

Dennis is a regular feature of our local coffee shop. If you go past at about half past nine in the morning he’s there. Go back again at four and he’s still there. I assume that Magda and Peter who run the place feel sorry for him. Dennis is 78 and gives all the signs of being very lonely since his wife died.

I was in there yesterday for a bacon bap and a latte and the only available seat was that next to Dennis. Inevitably he started chatting, and with Dennis you can’t get a word in edgewise. Off he went telling me all about the time he played football with the Italian prisoners of war when he was a little boy.

It seems his father was a foreman in the Post Office Engineers, and his 'gang' was excluded from forces service but left augmenting defence requirements along the south coast of England in conjunction with the Royal Corps of Signals.

No schools operated during the war in Hastings. With little or no schooling, Dennis often accompanied his father to work, which was usually to remove all the metalwork associated with 'phones on poles along the road between Winchelsea and Rye as this was interfering with radar along this stretch. The task involved removing all the wires, steps etc. The service was maintained by laying underground cable. When bombers went over, which was quite regular, Dennis would hide under his father's lorry with him.

One thing his father always carried in his lorry was footballs. He was a keen amateur footballer, playing two or three times a week up to the outbreak of war. The footballs were obtained by collecting cigarette coupons, (he was a keen smoker) and lunch breaks always ended with a short 'match' played either on the road or in a field, with tunics as posts.

On the outskirts of Hastings was a large prisoner-of-war camp housing Italian prisoners of war. During light summer evenings they would walk to the camp with a football and play football with the prisoners. Goals were built from old railings and nets were fashioned out of old chicken wire.

One day just after the war was over Dennis and his family happened to be in Reading when this truck drew to a halt beside them. There were lots of men in the back shouting and waving. It turned out to be the Italian prisoners of war who were being repatriated.

He told me that a few years ago he had told all of this to a woman in Bournemouth who was doing some sort of history project.

By that time I had finished my latte. Before I was at the door Dennis had latched on to someone else and was telling them about hop picking in Kent.

When I got home I tried googling ‘playing football with prisoners of war in East Sussex’ and guess what came up? A whole page of war memories by a young boy called Dennis who had lived in East Sussex, collected in October 2003 for the People’s War Archive.
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Re: Rathbone's Ramblin'

Postby rathbone » 30 Jun 2012, 07:24

If things on here get a bit wonky tomorrow, blame Apple.

Today is the last day of Mobile Me (which is my current web host). If you work on Macs and/or have a Mobile Me account then you will be aware that as of 1 July we all have to move over onto i-Cloud or else suffer the consequences. The only problem is that i-Cloud does not support websites.

I have to assume that my e-mail account, on-line storage and everything else that Apple say will work in the cloud will transition smoothly, but the website is another matter, I know that won’t work at all. Consequently I have spent today trying to move it elsewhere.

As is their usual efficient way, Apple’s instructions are clear and jargon free:

Launch iWeb and select your site in the program’s sidebar. From the Publish To pop-up menu choose FTP server instead of choosing MobileMe. In the FTP server settings choose the specific protocol (FTP with or without TLS/SSL or SFTP) from the Protocol pop-up menu. Then enter the server address, username, and password provided by your new web host. Click Test Connection to confirm your settings. Enter the URL for your site. (Note that if you were using a custom domain with Mobile Me you must edit the domain’s DNS settings so it points to the new host instead of to web.me.com). Your domain registrar can provide instructions for doing this. Click Publish Site.........Simples.

Except it ain’t. I have my new mac-friendly web host. I have my server address, username and password. I have my URL. What I don’t have is a working site. And can my domain registrar provide instructions for doing this? Of course they can’t.

Five hours in (much of that spent being held on the ‘phone to ‘help’ lines), the current advice is to ‘park’ it in Drop Box until I get the thing sorted out. Even that isn’t straightforward. You can’t just drag a website from iDisk and drop it into Drop Box. Oh no.

You have to launch iWeb. In the sidebar select the site you want to publish in Drop Box. In the publishing section open the Publish To menu and change it from Mobile Me to Local Folder. Under Folder Location choose desktop. Leave the site URL location blank. Create a Drop Box account. Locate the Public Folder in the Dropbox folder and then move the iWeb folder on your desktop into the Public folder. Drop Box will automatically create a publicly available URL. Before you proceed confirm that you see the Drop Box item in your menu bar. Drop Box only provides public links for files, not folders, so you need to control click your website’s index.html file, choose Drop Box in the contextual menu that appears and then select Copy Public Link. Paste this link into your web browser and, voilà, Drop Box is now hosting your iWeb site.

Except I’ve done all of that and no, it ain’t. It’s probably going to be quicker to rebuild the site from scratch.

I may or may not see you tomorrow depending on whether or not I’ve thrown this laptop at the wall in frustration.
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Re: Rathbone's Ramblin'

Postby Bazza » 30 Jun 2012, 11:34

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Re: Rathbone's Ramblin'

Postby rathbone » 01 Jul 2012, 07:24

Still here, so no expensive computer outlay...............


I suppose that most of us are used to people paying ridiculous sums of money for paintings by Van Gogh, Picasso or Munch, but would you pay $3,890,000 for a photograph?

Cindy Sherman’s photograph of a woman lying on a kitchen floor went for that recently at Christies. It’s not as if it’s a unique print either, it’s one of an edition of ten. I bet the people who hold the other nine copies are feeling chuffed.

Before I read about the Sherman I hadn’t really thought much about the market in photographs. I have my own particular favourites, like Wolfgang Tillmans and Nan Goldin but didn’t really follow how much they sold for. It turns out that neither of them appear in the list of the world’s top twenty most expensive photographs. The Cindy Sherman turns out to be number two. The most expensive is Rhein II by Andreas Gursky (Who, I have to confess, I have never heard of.) It sold last year for $ 4,338,500

It turns out to be a picture of the Rhine flowing horizontally across the field of view, between green fields, under an overcast sky from which extraneous details such as dog-walkers and a factory building were removed by the artist via digital editing. Justifying this manipulation of the image, Gursky said "Because this view of the Rhine cannot be obtained in situ, a fictitious construction was required to provide an accurate image of a modern river”. Maeve Kennedy in the Guardian describes it as “a sludgy image of the grey Rhine under grey skies”. I quite like it, but I wouldn’t pay more than fifty quid.

Wangi ........ a fortune awaits.
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Re: Rathbone's Ramblin'

Postby rathbone » 02 Jul 2012, 07:24

I’m not much in the habit of writing obituaries, unlike the eldest Rathbonette. Her facebook page is verging on a form of necrophilia. There is hardly a week goes by without a reference to someone who has popped off.
However she missed Victor Spinetti who died last month. I was reminded of him by Dennis’ chat about italian prisoners of war. Victor Spinetti’s dad, Giuseppe, was an italian national who ran a fish and chip shop in Wales. When war broke out Victor was 9. Because the family was classed as potential combatants, they were interned on the Isle of Man.

After the war, having proved to have no aptitude for working in the fish and chip shop, he enrolled at the Cardiff college of music and drama. Among his first jobs after graduating was in the chorus of a provincial tour of South Pacific. On his first night he found himself competing for the dressing room sink with a naked actor who badly wanted to have a pee. This turned out to be Sean Connery.

He went on to have a great stage career, particularly in Oh What A Lovely War and Brendan Behan’s The Hostage. (During the New York run of the latter he and Bredan Behan got in to trouble for holding a memorial service for King Kong on the top of the Empire State Building. One of my prized possessions is the original cast album for Fing’s Ain’t Wot They Used T’be in which he appeared as Tosh.

Not everything he was in was a hit. There is the great anecdote of when Tennessee Williams came back stage to see him after one particular disaster and remarked; “Victor, I’ll come to see you in anything, but don’t be in this again.”

Spinetti not only acted in plays, he wrote them and directed as well. I saw both his production of Jesus Christ Superstar and that of Hair. He was also a pretty good poet as well.

He clocked up over 30 films, of which Under Milk Wood with Richard Burton was probably the best, but it is his collaboration with The Beatles which is probably what he will be remembered for. He first appeared in A Hard Days Night and formed a close friendship with John Lennon. George Harrison apparently said, "You've got to be in all our films ... if you're not in them me Mum won't come and see them — because she fancies you.” And he did end up appearing in all of their films and carried on with regular appearances in Paul McCartney’s videos. Fittingly his very last screen appearance was in a documentary to celebrate 50 years since The Beatles first recording session at Abbey Road.

If you get the chance to read his autobiography, it’s a good laugh. It also contains some good advice: “I'm a person who gives away. I don't keep anything. I give it away. If you've got the talent, give it. If you've got the joy, give it. If you want happiness, give it. These are the important things in life. You have to give yourself away.”
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Re: Rathbone's Ramblin'

Postby rathbone » 03 Jul 2012, 07:19

One of Mrs.R.’s more endearing qualities is asking for explanations in the middle of television programmes, usually ones relating to science. We can’t get through an hour of Brian Cox without the need to discuss the minutiae of the moons of Jupiter and please do not get her started on plate techtonics.

One of her current areas of fascination is the Large Hadron Collider at CERN. It only needs an announcer to whisper large hadron and we’re off........ What’s a God Particle? Why Higgs Boson? Where do Quarks come from? ........ I used to think that all of that would finish when the kids left home.

So, taking it from the outside and working in: Every object we know about is made up of matter which has mass and is made up of atoms. Atoms are made up of protons and neutrons surrounded by electrons. Protons and neutrons are made up of quarks and gluons.

The problem comes when you try to work out the weight of atoms. For a start there is a huge difference between the weights of the various particles. The heaviest (the top quark) is about 350,000 times heavier than the lightest (the electron). Logic would dictate that the top quark should therefore be bigger than the electron but it isn’t, it’s smaller. Similarly, if you add up the masses of all the particles you would expect to get the mass of the atom, but you don’t. Say each particle weighed 1g and you had 6 particles, you would expect the atom to weigh 6g, but it doesn’t, it weighs 500g, so where is all that additional mass coming from?

Professor Peter Higgs’ theory is that the universe is filled with an invisible force field. As particles move through it they acquire greater mass. It ‘sticks’ to them using another particle called the Higgs Boson. Some particles, like the Top Quark attract more Higgs Bosons than others like the Electron and so gain more mass.

The trouble is that no-one has yet been able to isolate a Higgs Boson, which is where the Large Hadron Collider comes in. It accelerates two beams of protons to 99.999999999% of the speed of light and fires them at each other. In theory, when they collide the particles themselves should break down releasing the bosons. The trouble is identifying them among all of the quarks and gluons that are also released.

The trick is to keep repeating the experiment over and over again. When the physicists thing they have a reading which they think might be a Higgs Boson, they repeat the experiment and look for the same reading again. The more times they get the same result the chances of it being a fluke are reduced. They carry on until there is only a one in a million chance of it being a fluke. This is known as Five Sigma.

In December last year CERN produced data which reported a 2.9 Sigma reading and then another which gave 3.1 Sigma. It seems that it won’t be long before the Higgs Boson will have been identified, and the Mrs. R. can focus on something else.
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Re: Rathbone's Ramblin'

Postby rathbone » 04 Jul 2012, 07:19

For reasons I won’t bore you with I have been trying to get hold of a copy of John Waters’ Pink Flamingos. (That’s the one where Divine eats the doggy doos.)

There are some things in life that you wish you could undo and watching Pink Flamingos is one up them. Unfortunately it is literally true that once seen never forgotten, more’s the pity.

It is virtually impossible to describe the plot of this film without being offensive yourself, but I’ll give it a try:

Divine plays Babs Johnson who is trying to claim the title of the filthiest person alive. Her main challengers are the Marble family of Baltimore. The Marbles run a baby ring out of their basement where they kidnap lonely girls, get their man servant Channing to impregnate them by injecting them with his semen and then selling the babies to lesbian couples. The Marbles decide to spy on Babs by getting their daughter Cookie to seduce Babs’ son Crackers. This involves a scene with Crackers and Cookie tussling naked with a live chicken.

Babs’ response involves a burlesque stripper, a cortortionist who whisltles through his arse, a butcher’s cleaver and dried vomit on a napkin. When the poilice arrive they are chopped up with the cleaver. Babs and her son Crackers have graphic sex. Mr. Marble ties a chicken head to his penis and goes off exposing himself to young women. The mother marries the egg man and gets carted off in a wheelbarrow. And so it goes on.

At the end a large transvestite actually eats dog faeces as a fitting denouement to this intentionally disgusting movie. This is a truly tasteless film. Is this art? It this necessary? Are you better for having seen it? Why would you subject yourself to this? I don’t know the answer to any of those questions. What it is is truly unforgettable.

It has just be re-released in a special anniversary issue with deleted scenes! The mind boggles at what could have been so bad that it was removed from the original cut.
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Re: Rathbone's Ramblin'

Postby rathbone » 05 Jul 2012, 07:22

It’s years since I cast the I Ching. There was time when I used to do it quite regularly, usually when I couldn’t make up my mind which direction to take.

I don’t know what prompted me to take it down from the shelf, but there it was, three books along from the dictionary I had intended to consult. More importantly the three nepalese silver coins, now slightly tarnished, were still wedged down the spine.

I asked my question, threw the coins and drew my hexagram.Five broken lines and one solid: Po.

Po is also known as ‘Splitting Apart’. The hexagram indicates the yin power pushing up and about to supplant the yang altogether. It represents the image of a house, the top line being the roof and, because the roof is being shattered, the house collapses.

The Judgement is “It does not further one to go anywhere. The right behaviour is that one should submit to the bad time and remain quiet. It is not cowardice but wisdom to submit and avoid action.”

Now, the question I had asked was this: I have been approaching various people I have quoted in ‘Ain’t No Surf In Portobello’. One of them has come back to say that he objects strongly to the use of the quote and so will not give permission for it to be used. My question was should I argue with him or just accept the situation.

Given the answer from the I Ching I decided to take its judgement. I e-mailed him back, confirmed that I would remove the quote and apologised for any offense I may have caused.

Yesterday I got an e-mail back from him saying that he hoped he hadn’t upset me and, rather than use that particular quote, if I was to interview him, he would be happy for me to use anything which might come out of our discussion.

I thought I try the I Ching again. This time I got Po transmuting to K’Un .....: “There is an excellent option to continue with, which hasn't been used yet. Taking that chance allows one to get somewhere, not taking it means losing what one had.” So the I Ching says yes and I’m now busy thinking up questions to ask him.

In case you’re wondering, I’ve never approached the I Ching with due solemnity. Basically it gives your four answers: Yes , No, Don’t Know and Push Off. These are all wrapped up in flowery language (the wise man hiccups when the wind lies south) which condenses down to: Randomness, Entropy, Statistics and Cobblers. The true meaning is obvious by hindsight alone.


[Oh, by the way, I had no advanced knowledge of what was happening at CERN yesterday when I posted that piece on the Higgs Boson on Tuesday. (honest!)]
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Re: Rathbone's Ramblin'

Postby rathbone » 06 Jul 2012, 07:23

While I was hunting around in the nether regions the other day for the Virtual Twinning thread I was sidetracked by a thread back in 2005 called Sweet Memories which all about rare delights which have, mostly, now disappeared off the sweetie counters of the world. I know that it is meant to be smells like creosote which transport you back in time, but just the thought of a parma violet does it for me.

Ecm started the thread off by reminiscing about Queenie’s sweet shop in Royal Park Terrace. In my case it was Molly Hood’s. This was a little wooden shop half way down Bath Street, which had been built on to the front of one of the villas. It was one of the really old fashioned sweet shops, with big glass bottle of goodies stacked up to the ceiling.

This was still when we had post-war rationing and the sweets you could buy were restricted by the number of points in your ration book. For some reason, while most sweets required two points, Spangles only required one, so it was mostly Spangles that we bought.

Spangles were basically boiled sweets which came in a paper tube with the individual sweets wrapped in cellophane. In shape they were a rounded square with a circular depression on each face. To begin with they were fruit flavoured: strawberry, blackcurrant, orange, pineapple, lemon and lime, but by the late 50s they had introduced acid drop, barley sugar, liquorice, peppermint, spearmint and tangerine as well. At one point a mystery flavour was released where the wrappers had question marks on them and you were invited to guess the flavour.I never knew anyone who managed to guess the flavour and a quick google suggests that it was never officially revealed. (The cynic in me suggests that it was the scrapings of all the other flavours boiled up together). For some inexplicable reason Spangles were discontinued in the early eighties. Obviously there are plenty of people like me who are nostalgic about them because in 2008 they topped a poll of the discontinued brands which British consumers would most like to see revived.

In the thread people started listing the sweeties who did it for them: Sport Mixtures, MB Bars, Apple Stroodles, Space Dust, Gob Stoppers, Lucky Tatties, Sherbet Dabs, Soor Plooms, Jubilees, Curly Wurlys and Texas Bars. (I used to like the advert for Texas Bars. It featured this cowboy who had been captured by mexican bandits wearing big sombreros. One of the bandits asks the cowboy, "A last request gringo?" The cowboy asks for a Texan bar and it takes him so long to eat it that the baddies fall asleep and he escapes!)

Nobody mentioned my own favourite, the Penny Whopper. If you`re not familiar with Penny Whoppers, they were bars consisting of a soft chocolatey fudge-like substance.

However, Bellybabe had posted a link through to a site called aquarterof.co.uk, which specialises in hard to find sweets. So I called it up and there they were, at £3 17p for five. I haven’t bothered to work out the inflation rate, but they certainly can’t call them penny whoppers anymore, so now they are called Chelsea Whoppers. As the site said: “This was one of the hardest sweets to track down so far. But we did it.” and I’m glad they did.

Apart from purchasing my first Penny Whoppers for over fifty years, I’m also tempted by the 1960s Decade Box - “Sweets from the Swinging 60s! - What on earth do you get that 60s child who`s got everything? Well ponder no more, because this is the most stunningly original gift they could ever hope for! We`ve been doing masses of research, and have put together this fabulous 1960s Decade Box - an enormous wooden chest filled to the brim with the most popular sweets from the Swinging 60s - if this doesn’t bring a nostalgic tear to their eyes, nothing will!”

Inside it’s got: Strawberry Bonbons, Sweet Tobacco, Fruit Gums, Brown Gems, Jelly Babies, Golf Ball Bubblegum, Rhubarb & Custard, Kola Kubes, Lemonade Fizzballs, Drumsticks, Flying Saucers, White Chocolate Fish & Chips, Super Candy Whistles, Coconut Mushrooms and .............. Parma Violets!
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Re: Rathbone's Ramblin'

Postby rathbone » 07 Jul 2012, 07:30

When do you define someone as British? I’m asking the question because over the last month I have seen three references to Idries Shah. One of them described him as an Afghan, one as Indian and one as English.

Well, let’s see. He was born in India to an Afghan father and a Scottish mother. He came to Britain as a baby and grew up in London. He then lived in Oxford until his death at the age of 72.

His publisher classes him as Afghan.
Sufi Today also describes him as an afghan writer.
The Gurdjieff Legacy site has him as a British writer.
If you listen to the interviews with him on You Tube with your eyes shut you would think you were listening to a posh upperclass Englishman.

I was about to check the Idries Shah website, but it has gone. What comes up is a notice saying it was hosted by Mobile Me which has now closed down. Presumably the webmaster is having the same problems as me in transferring it to another host.

Whatever, I have always found Shah intriguing. Did he actually exist at all? Certainly there was someone by the name of Idries Shah who wrote lots of books on Sufism. There were other authors who also published similar material. It turns out that both Jack Bracelin and Louis Palmer were fictitious persons, both being simply pseudonyms for Idries Shah himself. Rafael Lefort and O. M. Burke are also known pseudonyms of Idries Shah. But that's just for starters.

Shah was apparently a master of making up of pseudo-history, of grossly twisted facts, and proffering false provenances in support of plagiarized literary documents, often to the detriment of other people's reputations. It is even alleged that Shah misrepresented his own credentials and genealogy. Which takes us full circle.

My favourite definition of a British National is on the website of the British Embassies. It says a British National is ‘a British Citizen’, but doesn’t define what a British Citizen is, and then goes on to say ‘We can’t help non-British Nationals no matter how long they have lived in the U.K.’

The British Border Agency, however defines British Citizen as: “if you were born before 1 January 1983, you became a British citizen if, immediately before that date, you were a citizen of the United Kingdom and Colonies and had the right of abode in the United Kingdom”.

Under that definition Idries Shah, Jack Bracelin, Louis Palmer, Rafael Lefort, O. M. Burke or who ever he was is British, assuming that he was really born where he claimed he was and his parents were who he said they were.
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Re: Rathbone's Ramblin'

Postby rathbone » 08 Jul 2012, 07:20

At around quarter past three this afternoon I will witness a bona fide miracle.

The main road through our town runs past the end of our street. About ten year ago the council put in a cycle track, which they demarcated with a nice surface of bright pink tarmac with a drawing of a bike in white at regular intervals. Between the cycle track and the carriage way was a solid white line and along the edge of the pavement double yellow lines.

For a couple of years everything went well. Car drivers stuck to the carriage way. The number of cyclists increased. The cycleway was linked up to the Sustrans network. Cyclists from outside the town who used to bypass it started coming in. The coffee shop had a bike rack installed outside.

Then a few cracks started to appear in the bright pink tarmac. Following the winter frosts it started to flake off. Everybody assumed that the council would come along to fix it, but they didn’t. The following winter potholes began to appear. The council’s response was to slap a bit of black stuff in the hole and tamp it down. The Cycle track looked quite spotty.

The cars started edging over on to the spotty track and surprisingly quickly the bike symbols and the white lines were being worn off. We assumed the council would fix it. They didn’t.

The potholes reappeared. The markings disappeared. Even the yellow lines began to go.

Somebody got on to the council about it. They were aware of the problem. It was on the list. Another year went by and the cycle path had all but disappeared. The cyclists got up a petition. The council’s response was that it was on the list. The local MP was approached. She said she would see what she could do. But she lost her seat at the next election and the Tories were in. The council’s tune changed. The deteriorating cycle path was no longer on the list, it was a victim of the cuts. The chairman of the highways committee went on record to say it would take a miracle to get the necessary money in the foreseeable future.

Last week the road was closed every night. The entire surface was dug up and relaid. The cycle lane was reinstated. The white lines went down. The yellow lines went down. The little graphic bicycles reappeared. Even the railings and lampposts were scraped free of rust and repainted. On Friday they came along and strung bunting from lamppost to lamppost.

And at quarter past three today, for all of four minutes, someone will run along it holding the olympic torch aloft. Who knew the flame had such power to transform?
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Re: Rathbone's Ramblin'

Postby rathbone » 09 Jul 2012, 07:22

Whatever happened to the Age of Aquarius. Wasn’t it supposed to be dawning back in the 1960s? Unfortunately, there are currently at least seventy dates for the beginning of the Age of Aquarius covering a range of 1500 years.

My own favourite is that it’s due to arrive at eleven minutes past eleven on 21 December 2012. We know this because the Dresden Codex tells us so.

The Dresden Codex is an ancient Mayan book. There is an image contained on the last page of that book, which deals with the winter solstice and “the end of time.” The figure in the middle of the page represents a mythical water-bearer announcing the end of the age. How strange is it that, coincidentally, a mythical water-bearer also happens to be the sign that announces the arrival of the new age of Aquarius? There are four boxes over her head, representing the four planets visible to the naked eye in alignment with each other on that day…. (hmmm, as in “When Jupiter aligns with Mars?”) And one of the boxes looks like a wristwatch with paired elevens balancing each other out.

I have a vested interest, of course, being an Aquarian by birth. That means that I’m an interesting and attractive person. I can be shy, sensitive, gentle and patient, enthusiastic and lively with a tendency to be an exhibitionist. I am strong willed and forceful in my own way. Being very opinionated with strong convictions, I fight for what I believe in. I will argue vehemently for what I believe to be true, however, if you can show me facts to the contrary, I have little trouble altering their opinion. Apparently I am a farsighted person with an eye and ear to the new and innovative. I am generally without prejudice and quite tolerant of the point of view of others. I also have an interesting side to my nature that allows me to see a valid argument even when I disagree with it. I am are quite objective and never gets waylaid by being too close to an issue or person. In other words, a truly a humane, human being. Known to be frank and outspoken, I make for a serious and genial companion. Refined and idealistic, romantic, quick in mind and quick to respond, I love activity and am quite reasonable, though difficult to get close to. I cherish and guard my independence, and am a strange mixture of caring concern and cool detachment. I will go out of my way to help when needed, but never get involved emotionally.

Actually I was prompted to this thought by hearing about the death of Eric Sykes which reminded me of an episode of Sykes where he and Hattie believe that the end of the world is nigh and congregate with their neighbours on Shepherd's Hill to wait for the end of the world - but as night falls, and after they have engaged in all sorts of debauchery, nothing happens.

I’m booking my place on the nearest hill for the evening of 21 December 2012.
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Re: Rathbone's Ramblin'

Postby rathbone » 10 Jul 2012, 07:18

I’ve been having a bit of a personal problem with my jeans. For some reason (I know not what), they have begun chaffing my groin, but only on the right hand side. I’ve tried adjusting my underwear. I’ve checked to see if there’s a problem with the seam of that trouser leg. All to no avail. The chaffing is a bit like nappy rash, so I thought I’d resort to baby powder.

The feel of talc is really sensuous on you fingers. It made me wonder where talc came from. A quick google and most of it comes from mines in the south of France, with the rest of the commercial supply from Australia, the USA and Italy. Chemically it comes from a metamorphic reaction of serpentine in the presence of carbon dioxide and water. (Which left me none the wiser). It is also the softest mineral currently known, hence that sensuous sensation.

That made me think, if talc’s the softest, then what is the hardest? Diamond, obviously. Isn’t that what we’ve all been brought up to think? Turns out it isn’t, it’s a substance called ADNR which is hard enough to scratch diamond.

It occurs when buckminsterfullerenes are subjected to intense heat and pressure. Now most of us are familiar with the fact that carbon comes in two forms, Graphite and Diamond and that if Graphite is subjected to sufficient heat and pressure it will turn into Diamond. But there is a third form of carbon called Fullerite which is made up of buckminsterfullerenes, which it a molecule formed of sixty carbon atoms. When these are squeezed hard enough they form microscopic threads called nanorods 20 billionths of a metre wide. ADNR is denser than diamond, it is stiffer than diamond and, crucially, it is harder than diamond.

The scientific definition of hardness is simple. If something can make a scratch mark on another material, then it is harder than it. ADNR is at the top of the list, then diamond (which remains the benchmark and is graded as 10). Corundum is next at 9. Glass is 5.5. Interestingly human fingernails are 2.5. Lead is 1.5 and talc is the softest at 1.

Anyway I have liberally dusted inside my kecks and my jeans are now gliding over the surface of my thigh with impunity.
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Re: Rathbone's Ramblin'

Postby rathbone » 11 Jul 2012, 07:27

Who knew a bit of talc would have produced such a reaction, not just here but on Facebook. Heaven knows what would have happened if I'd been talking about an intimate part of my anatomy........ so, just for the sake of Epykat's sensitive imagination, I'm moving on to that today.

You realise that you aren’t as young as you were when you get a veruca on the sole of your foot. It’s easy enough to go to the chemist and buy a tube of gel to bazooka that veruca, but trying to apply it is the hard bit. What’s the point of going to the gym to keep fit if one little virus lurking in the shower can undo all that good work? Where did the flexibility in your knee joints go? And as for the hip, it can protest all it likes, but this little pest is going to get squirted. Just getting access to the sole of your foot can be a struggle.

Anyway, I eventually got into a workable position, and while I was down there it made me think about feet. I take mine for granted and you probably use yours with similar lack of thought. Feet are very special and we don’t treat them right. We don’t have enough regard for them.

The nerve endings in the bottoms of your feet connect up to all sorts of different parts of you. If your feet are neglected or mistreated the whole rest of your body will suffer.

Just consider the bone structure. The foot is a marvel of engineering. The delicate bones of the metatarsal arch can support enormous weight and sustain great shocks without breaking. Our feet are the supports and foundations on which we stand, then walk and run. They are the first, the oldest, and in most places in the world the only form of transportation.

Apparently Nijinsky had very square feet with his toes all about the same length. This was the reason he could jump so high. His toes, the last thing to leave the ground as he jumped, propelled him into the air like pistons.

The bushmen of the Kalahari can recognise each other’s footprints as easily as we recognise voices. I couldn’t recognise my own footprint. In fact I don’t think I’ve ever consciously looked at my own footprint. Like the vast majority of people in the west I’ve become quite out of touch with my feet and they have responded by becoming insensitive inside their shoes.

It has been an enjoyable experience getting to know my toes again. Toes are wonderful. They can do a lot more than you realize. Wiggling them. Stretching them. Just spreading them out and having a good look. I haven’t had this much fun with them since I was a baby.
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Re: Rathbone's Ramblin'

Postby rathbone » 12 Jul 2012, 07:19

My grandmother was a great believer in the psychic phenomena. There was nothing she liked better than a good seance and more than once as a child I would sit quietly in a corner while the adults gathered round the kitchen table and someone went into a trance.

One of her ‘heroes’, if I can describe him as that was Edgar Cayce. Cayce was a very ordinary man, a loving husband, a father of two children, an amateur photographer, a devoted Sunday School teacher, and an eager gardener.

He had been born into a farming family in Kentucky, only received a primary education and worked in a dry goods store. In 1901 he went to a show at the local theatre and was hypnotised on stage. He then discovered that he could hypnotise himself at will and if anyone asked him to consider something while in a trance, he could produce answers, even for things which he had had no previous experience of. In particular he could identify illnesses and suggest cures. He became popular and soon people from around the Kentucky sought his advice. By the 1920’s his fame had spread across america and people were asking him where to hunt for treasure, which horse would win a particular race and A cotton merchant even offered Cayce a hundred dollars a day for his readings about the daily outcomes in the cotton market. By 1925 he was a professional psychic.

For forty-three years of his adult life, Edgar Cayce demonstrated the uncanny ability to put himself into some kind of self-induced sleep state by lying down on a couch, closing his eyes, and folding his hands over his stomach. This state of relaxation and meditation enabled him to place his mind in contact with all time and space. From this state he could respond to questions as diverse as, "What are the secrets of the universe?" to "How can I remove a wart?" These answers, which came to be called "readings" were written down by a stenographer, who kept one copy on file. There are copies of more than 14,000 of Edgar Cayce's readings. This material represents the most massive collection of psychic information ever obtained from a single source.

But it was the information that Cayce revealed about the future which he is probably most known for. He provided information about the history of humanity from the very beginning to a time in the future when humans will evolve into beings with supernatural powers. He described a new era of enlightenment and peace when divinity within humans would be manifested on the Earth. But before this comes about, Cayce foresaw world events that can only be described as apocalyptic, a period of purification involving natural disasters that will dramatically alter the surface of the Earth, wars, economic collapse, and socio-political unrest. In 1924, Cayce predicted the crash of the market after a long bull run during 1929. During the mid-1920's he chronicled the rise and fall of the stock market, teaching his clients how to play the bull market and how to prepare for the crash of 1929. He even outlined what growth industries would give them the best long term portfolio after the market reached bottom. Cayce should have been quite well-to-do with endowment from a share of their speculations, but his clients did not pay attention to the readings and failed to pay heed to his warning. Six months later, they lost all they had when the great October 1929 Stock Market Crash occurred. This was also the trigger for the Great Depression which Cayce also foresaw. In 1931,Cayce foresaw that the Great Depression would lift in the spring of 1933 which it did. In January 1934, Cayce predicted that Hitler would rise in power to reign over Germany. In August 1935, he predicted that Hitler would remain in power until it will "come as an overthrow or an outside war."

On the other hand During Cayce's otherworldly journeys, Cayce would often reveal the past lives of those who would come to him for information concerning their health. A number of people who came to Cayce were told by him that they had past lives in the legendary lost land of Atlantis. In fact, Cayce revealed that a vast number of souls who lived past lives in Atlantis have been incarnating to America for a long time. He said the people of Atlantis had constructed giant laser-like crystals for power plants, and that these were responsible for the second destruction of the land. Cayce blamed the final destruction of Atlantis and the disintegration of their culture on greed and lust. But before the legendary land disappeared under the waves, Cayce revealed that there was an exodus of many Atlanteans to ancient Egypt. Cayce attributed the Biblical Great Flood of Noah to be a result of the sinking of the last huge remnants of Atlantis.

There are still a huge number of followers of Cayce. Institutions have been founded to promote his work. You can buy his complete readings on a CD-Rom.

I’m not a believer in the psychic (too many occasions sitting in my granny’s kitchen watching the adults making idiots of themselves), but I am quite happy to sit here every morning telling you what the secrets of the universe are or how to remove a wart.
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Re: Rathbone's Ramblin'

Postby rathbone » 13 Jul 2012, 07:18

It must be true love. The youngest Rathbonette came round to collect her flute. Not that the flute was ever objectionable in comparison with other instruments. (I can remember when Epykat was learning the viola.) If you have ever wished you could make music without frightening the neighbours you should give the flute a try.

Anyway, after she had gone there was the usual usual post search devastation in her old bedroom which needed to be put back in order. Among the stuff which had to be put back on the shelf was the original primer for the flute. It was a fascinating read:

“ If you can make a sound by blowing over the top of a bottle you can play the flute. ....

The flute runs on air so you must breathe correctly to play it with satisfaction. Yoga breathing techniques are a help but you must use your mouth as well as your nose to inhale. Fill the lungs every time you breathe and use up each breath completely before taking another.....

......Begin playing with the head joint or mouthpiece only. Make a small aperture with your lips without puckering or swelling them, drawing the lips into a slight smile. Rest the mouthpiece gently under your lower lip and blow both into and over the hole adjusting the position of the head joint and the airstream until you get a note.....

..... a common error is jutting the jaw out or pulling it too far in. Try to keep the lower jaw flush with the upper. Don’t be afraid to blow hard and long. When you get dizzy, rest. Pretty soon you will not get dizzy.....

..... When you have mastered the head joint put the flute together. When putting your flute together avoid putting pressure on the keys. They bend. Don’t clean it, you’ll only bend the keys....

....Remember that the weight of the flute rests on the third joint of the left index finger and the right thumb. You will need your left thumb for keying so don’t get it tied up supporting the flute....

.... play standing up for fifteen minutes at a time. Play every day until you acquire some strength.....

.....Keep the flute out of the case at home so it is easy to pick up and play when you feel like it. Take it with you in the case when you go places. When there is a lull you will want to play.....

..... The fingering is tricky so if you need help find a teacher in your local area.....

Blue Peter was never like this!
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Re: Rathbone's Ramblin'

Postby Epykat » 13 Jul 2012, 18:55

Neither was playing the viola!
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Re: Rathbone's Ramblin'

Postby rathbone » 14 Jul 2012, 07:25

I read a hilarious article this week by Clifford Yudell on the Cannibal Liberation Front. He estimates that statistically there are at least 11,000 people with cannibal tendencies in New York alone. Across America it may be as many as three million. And why should they be denied their right to eat as they choose? There is nothing specifically on the statute books denying them that right.

It seems that they are getting together. A number of them (16) reserved a large table in a New York restaurant, arrived, checked in their coats and sat down. After cocktails they refused to accept the restaurant’s standard menu because there was not one single item listed that would appeal to the average cannibal. Much to the surprise of the maitre d’ they announced that not only had they brought their own dinner, but that they had every intention of using his kitchen to prepare it. The police were called.

Buoyed up by the resulting media coverage Cannibal ‘cells’ began springing up all over the country, culminating in the first Cannibal Pride day. Inevitably factions have developed. On the extreme right are the strictly orthodox CHEW (Cannibalism for Health, Education and Wellbeing). In the middle are the Cannibal Activists who believe that an end to political oppression of Cannibalism is the only way to achieve full social acceptance. And on the left, showing little patience for the other two groups, is the militant Eaters Liberation Front.

All of them are united, however, in condemning the fact that cannibalism is still prohibited by law in every country affiliated to the United Nations. Then there’s the job discrimination. Apart from some fast food chains, no self-avowed cannibal can get work without hiding their eating preferences.

There are many misconceptions about cannibals. They are essentially just ordinary people with different tastes from the norm. You can’t tell a cannibal just by eating with one. In fact you have probably been sitting next to them in the cafeteria for years without giving a thought to the torment they go through. Just think of the self-hatred they must experience every day when someone ask them what kind of sandwich they’ve got and they have to lie: “Oh, just tuna.”

We all have to remember that cannibals are responsible citizens who want to lead private but honest lives. But let’s be under no illusions: if we don’t open up our laws, our economic institutions, our whole oppressive society, there’s no telling what we’ll have to deal with next.
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Re: Rathbone's Ramblin'

Postby rathbone » 15 Jul 2012, 07:26

I do like a bit of casual ageism. I’ve had three instances of it this week alone.

I’ve been trying to get hold of a copy of Sonic Youth’s ‘Kill Yr Idols’ for years and happened to find a copy in a little record shop in London’s Hanwell Street which is not one of my usual haunts. I took it up to the counter. The guy serving looked to be in his late teens, early twenties. He looked at the record, then looked at me, then looked at the record again. “D’you know what this sounds like?” he said in a tone which suggested he thought I was making a mistake. I was tempted to say :” Yes, it’s a pulsating blend of discordant guitars, impassioned vocals and compulsive drum patterns”, but I just restricted myself to “Why?” “Oh, I just thought you might be, you know, a bit old for it.” At least he was direct.

Next I was in our nearest Waterstone’s, which has a particularly good comics section (which goes under the artsy fartsy heading of Graphic Novels). I’ve collected comics most of my life and might come back to that as a topic at a later date. Anyway there I was scanning along the shelves, sharing the space with this big guy in a fluorescent jacket. I assumed he was working on the building site in the town centre and had come in during his lunch break. Unfortunately we were getting in each other’s way. “Looking for anything in particular”, he asked. I told him I was looking for 30 Days Of Night by Steve Niles and Ben Templesmith. He was looking for anything by Steve Ditko. With a grunt he fetched a volume off the bottom shelf and handed it to me. “Present is it?”, he asked. I must have looked slightly bemused. “Present?”, he repeated. “ I just thought at your age you must be buying it for your grandson or something.”

The third event was really good fun. The more astute reader may have deduced the fact that the youngest Rathbonette is getting married later in the year. She has decided that she wants a sixties themed wedding. The wedding dress has been bought and we have spent ages discussing how I can co-ordinate with it in order not to embarrass her as we walk down the aisle. It has been decided that I must dress in full mod attire. The shoes were fairly straight forward (They are black and white brogues which more or less match the pattern in the lace on her dress). The Ben Sherman shirt was also fairly straight forward. The suit, however, is the piece de whatever. I tried looking at retro gear on-line, but nothing looked right. A perfect opportunity now existed to relive those adolescent dreams.

So off I went to a bespoke tailor in the East End who still makes genuine mohair tonic suits to measure. His name’s Gary. He’s somewhat portly, nice smile, good bedside manner. We looked at a number of different photographs from the early to mid sixties and settled on the style. We draped various swatches of cloth over my shoulder to gauge what worked with my complexion. We got down to the various measurements. I went back again this week for the first fitting. It went on a treat. Just a few minor adjustments in the leg length and around the waist. “Nice fit”, I said. “Trick of the trade” Gary replied. “I’ve been at this game long enough to know that by the time guys get to your age things have redistributed themselves a bit and I make allowances.”

Let’s hope I don’t redistribute further before the big day.
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Re: Rathbone's Ramblin'

Postby rathbone » 16 Jul 2012, 07:17

I’m allergic to a range of common medications, particularly anti-histamines and penicillin. Allegedly this is a consequence of my mother having been inoculated with all sorts as part of her job in the Eastern General and passing higher than normal dozes over to me. (Anyway, that’s the theory we got from Doctor O’Neil when I went down with all sorts of reactive complaints at the ages of seven.) What it means is a rash and itchy skin to mild anaphylactic reactions such as breathing difficulty and dizziness if I take anything which doesn’t agree with me (including the potassium in bananas!)

So, if I need antibiotics I am usually prescribed imipenem, meropenem or macrolide. They really go to town on the bacteria, both the benign and the pesky ones. Which is a real problem for my internal colony of Lactobacillus Acidophilus which one capsule of macrolide more or less wipes out.

We all need our Lactobacillus Acidophilus. It’s these little organisms which keep our digestive processes in efficient working order. They do battle with the unhealthy microorganisms that also reside in our intestinal tract by creating by-products such as lactic acid and hydrogen peroxide that create a hostile environment to the organisms that are unhealthy for us. Another spin off from their work is folic acid and vitamin K, both of which are good for us. L. Acidophilus also consumes the nutrients that are necessary for unhealthy organisms to survive, thereby out competing them for food.

When we were babies we acquired our collection of these friendly little bugs by drinking cows milk, and now, when we lose them, we can replace them by drinking pro-biotics like Yakult, or eating probiotic yoghurt. Allegedly. I have to say that I have consumed gallons of Yakult with very little effect. In fact Yakult contains very little Acidophilus. It is mostly another bacterium altogether called Casei Shirota. It’s the same with yoghurts, which usually contain two bacteria called Bulgaricus and Streptococcus, neither of which permanently lodge in the lower intestine. Any yoghurt labelled ‘long-life’ contains no bacteria at all! Most manufacturers aren’t very good at clearly labeling their yoghurts so you really need to read the small print.

It’s worth shopping around for yoghurts which genuinely contain Lactobacillus Acidopholus. However, even better is getting hold of some containing Lactobacillus Bifidis. We all start off with a healthy supply of L. Bifidis which only comes from human breast milk. Inevitably it is not the sort of thing which gets emblazoned across the packaging, but if you look for Eugalan on the label then the culture in the mix has come from human milk.(You can sometimes buy Eugalan on Amazon, but it’s not there all the time.)
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Re: Rathbone's Ramblin'

Postby rathbone » 17 Jul 2012, 07:22

Once upon a time (actually 2006), there was a swan called Petra. She lived on the lake in the Aasee park in Münster in Germany. Though she was beautiful, Petra was a lonely swan because none of the other swans were friendly with her. Maybe it was because she was a black swan with a bright red beak and they were all white swans.

For a while the officials at the park were worried that Petra would lead a solitary life and tried to introduce her to various potential mates, all to no avail. Then suddenly, as is often the way of these things, Petra fell in love.

The object of her affections was a large, handsome white swan called Victor. The only problem was that Victor was a pedalo. She started circling the white pedal boat. Stare at it for a long, long time and make soft noises. She would also hoot angrily at anyone who came near the pedal boat. Biologists say this is how swans in love behave and swans take only one partner for life.

All summer Petra would follow Victor around the lake and at night she would roost next to him at his mooring. As winter came in the other swans flew off to their winter quarters, but Petra refused to leave. Every year the pedalos are put into a shed for storage when the lake freezes over and this year was no different. Victor was taken out of the water and put in the shed. Petra was distraught, flapping about trying to get into the shed.

Fortunately the local zoo had a heated pool in the elephant enclosure. Victor was taken there and Petra followed. All winter they floated together on the elephant pond. Come the summer they were back on the lake, with Petra blissfully following her true love as he was pedalled around the lake.

Their romance continued until 2009, when Petra suddenly disappeared. As she would not have deserted Victor willingly it was assumed that she was either stolen or had been taken by a fox. Despite numerous ‘sightings’ all over Germany in the years since, Petra has not returned.

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Re: Rathbone's Ramblin'

Postby rathbone » 18 Jul 2012, 07:24

Thinking of Petra and her pedalo reminded me of the gay penguins of Bremerhaven. (What is it with those German birds?)

Back in 2005 three pairs of male Humboldt penguins at the Bremerhaven zoo had been seen attempting to mate with each other and trying to hatch offspring from stones.

The zoo issued a statement that said "Homosexuality is nothing unusual among animals. Sex and coupling up in our world do not necessarily have anything to do with reproduction."

There have been previous reports of exclusive male-to-male pairings among penguins. Homosexual behaviour is well documented in many different animals, but it is not understood in detail. It has been suggested that homosexual activity could serve various purposes - for instance, it may relate to social bonding and establishment of dominance . Some animals may simply exhibit a "drive to mate", while others may, like humans, enjoy non-procreative sexual activity.

The zoo introduced four females in a bid to get the endangered birds to reproduce - but quickly abandoned the scheme after the males showed no interest in the girls. This led to a campaign by the German Gay Liberation movement who protested that the zoo’s action amounted to ‘organised and forced harassment through the use of female seductresses’. Bremerhaven’s mayor agreed saying that “Everyone, be they human or penguin, have the right to live as they please.” The female penguins were removed. The six "gay" penguins remained at the zoo.

A few years later the zoo decided on another tack. Another pair of penguins abandoned an egg by pushing it out of their nest and so they placed it in the care of the homosexual penguins. They accepted the egg immediately and took turns in incubating it with their body heat. They did this for 35 days and the baby was born on April 25, 2009. Since the chick arrived, the gay penguins have been behaving just as you would expect a heterosexual family to do. The happy fathers spend their days attentively protecting, caring for and feeding their adopted offspring.

Warms the cockles of your heart.
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Re: Rathbone's Ramblin'

Postby rathbone » 19 Jul 2012, 07:19

My final university thesis was on the influence of dialectics on the development of urban design, which is when I first came across Martin Buber. In my constant struggle to read books off the shelves and into recycling, in order to create more space, I’ve been making my way through his major work “I and Thou”.

Like me, as a university student, Buber studied art history and philosophy. Unlike me he could read German, Hebrew, Yiddish, Polish, English, French and Italian, Spanish, Latin, Greek and Dutch. After he graduated he became the editor of the weekly Zionist paper Die Welt and of Die Gesellschaft, a collection of psychological monographs.

He started work on “I and Thou” in 1916 and finally published it in 1923. He then began work on a translation of the Hebrew Bible into German, a task which took him over thirty years to complete.

In 1923 Buber was appointed the first lecturer in Religious Philosophy and Ethics at the University of Frankfurt. He resigned after Hitler came into power in 1933 and jews were banned from teaching. He then got involved in what he described as “spiritual resistance” against Nazism through communal education.

“I and Thou” is based on a distinction between two word-pairs that designate two basic modes of existence: “I-Thou” and “I-It”. The “I-Thou” relation is the pure encounter of one person with another in such a way that the other person is recognised as an individual without being subsumed into a universal. In contrast to this the “I-It” relationship is driven by categories of “same” and “different”. An “I-It” relationship experiences the other person as a detached thing. To perceive the other person as an It is to take them as classified and hence predictable and manipulable. In contrast, in an “I-Thou” relation both participants exist as individuals in their own right.
Inevitably the Nazi’s, who considered the Jews as “It” did not take this too kindly coming from a jewish professor. Buber and his family fled Germany in 1938, relocating in Jerusalem. He took a post as a professor of philosophy at Jerusalem’s Hebrew University.

Even before Israel declared independence, Buber was starting to suggest the nation could only succeed if it embraced some humanistic values. In 1942 he wrote: “There is Jewish nationalism which regards Israel as a nation and recognizes no task for Israel save that of preserving and asserting itself. But no nation in the world has this as its only task, for just as an individual who wishes merely to preserve and assert himself leads an unjustified and meaningless existence, so a nation with no other aim deserves to pass away.”

By 1950, Buber was speaking out vigorously to defend the civil and political rights of Palestinian Arabs within Israel. Buber recognized the minority status of Palestinians within the new nation would be a problem in the future if the rights of all citizens were not protected.

When he died in 1965 he was honoured by both the Jews and the Arabs who both erected monuments to him. It’s just a pity the lessons he was teaching still haven’t been acted on.
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Re: Rathbone's Ramblin'

Postby rathbone » 20 Jul 2012, 07:18

I’m a sucker for ufo sightings and, when visiting Mrs. R.’s sister am frequently to be found in Polmont staring at the skies.

Polmont, of course, is in the so-called Bonnybridge triangle and Bonnybridge lays claim to being the UFO capital of the world. Almost half of the town’s residents have claimed to have seen a UFO at one time or another and on a yearly basis, around 300 sighting reports are received from Bonnybridge.

It all started in 1992 when James Walker noticed some strange lights in the sky while driving home. At first he thought they were stars but was startled when he saw them move and assume a triangle shape. Since then, UFO sightings have been coming in thick and fast in Bonnybridge. Many of the sightings occur at night and consist simply of weird lights in the sky. Often, they change shape or colour or modulate in brightness over time.Alien abductions have also been reported in the area.

And it goes on:

Take last year (May 2 to be precise) There was a lot of activity in the sky over Polmont. Particularly above the Klondyke garden centre at the motorway turn off. There were flashing blue and red lights in a random pattern, hovering, going back and forward. Initially people thought it was a helicopter, but then it started moving slowly upward. Then it just took off and arched way up and over towards the BP refinery at Grangemouth. It was followed by a dim orange orb low in the sky towards Stirling. Then further down a bright orange light, like a BP flame but nowhere near the BP refinery. Suddenly about 10 things were moving in the sky at different times from between 12:00 a.m. – 1:00 a.m. They looked like satellites, but they didn’t have a straight trajectory, they were weaving and changing direction. Then they dropped low and took off at seriously high speed.It was not shooting stars.

On 20 July a jogger was running along the side of the Union Canal from Falkirk to the Carron Lock Marina. He had just gone around the path where the boats are moored at the end of the canal at approx 11:50pm when he noticed a bright orange glow sitting low just over the treetops in front of him. It was just sitting there doing nothing, which was odd, but he thought it could have been a helicopter light or a Chinese lantern but then as he stopped to look at it more he noted several balls of light race in the sky both under and over it at great speed. These lights were sitting over Polmont. The balls of light were odd. The jogger counted six in all.

On 23 July a man out walking his dog in Grangemouth witnessed an orange ufo of some type. He assumed it was a chinese lantern at first , until it made a maneuver that no lantern could make, shooting up a little then back down, then after that it disappeared into the clouds. This was over Polmont around 12 o’ clock at night.

There are more things in heaven and earth...... and Polmont.
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Re: Rathbone's Ramblin'

Postby rathbone » 21 Jul 2012, 07:33

I collect, Mrs. R. hoards. At least that’s the argument I use when we’re tussling for more space. In practice we’ve got things allocated between us. I have the living room and the dining room. She has the study, both of the Rathbonettes’ old rooms, our bedroom and the garage. A pretty equitable split.

Mrs. R. collects childrens books. We, quite literally, have thousands of the things. She throws nothing away.

I, on the other hand, am not sentimental and do have regular clear outs (hence the discarding of poor Martin Buber the other day.

I used to have a large collection of comics but ditched them a few years ago to make space for a complete set of Domus (the italian architecture and design magazine).

I said that I’m not sentimental, but there must be an element of that: I kept all of the Silver Surfers, all of the Nasty Tales and all of the Alan Moores.

Silver Surfer because there aren’t that many of them, he’s my favourite, and there is a large mural of the Silver Surfer adorning the wall of our upstairs toilet.

Nasty Tales because there was a time when I worshiped Edward Barker. Poor Edward, now all but forgotten except by real anoraks like me. Where are The Largactalites and their latest hysterical pranks now? The Largactalites were little creatures with pointy noses and no arms who walked around saying “Meep Meep.” Nasty Tales was published by Meep Comix. Then there were The Demented Waving Bros. who were smily blobs with buck teeth and a single hand on the top of their head which they used to ....well, wave. Or you could chuckle along to our old chum Om who spent boring nights down the pub with his un-named mate who always wore shades indoors.

Like so many things in the late sixties, after seven issues, Nasty Tales fell foul of the law and Edward was hauled up in court for publishing Filph. After a nine day trial at the Old Bailey he was found not guilty.

Nasty Tales didn’t come back, but another one, called Edward’s Heave did. I’ve kept that as well. There were loads of great new characters like Fred Quimby Ace Of The Spaceways, The Galactalites (who were Largactalites with arms), The Gaberdine Cowboy (who liked whipping it out) and the Hog Riding Fools.

The Alan Moores were kept because I’m still susceptible to a bit of hero worship and for my money Alan Moore is the top of the pile when it comes to comic book art. Just run through his achievements:
Future Shocks
2000 AD
Halo Jones
Captain Britain
V For Vendetta
Marvelman
Saga Of The Swamp Thing
Watchmen
The League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen
From Hell
Brought To Light.
Most writers would kill to have produced any one of those.

And those are just a fraction of his output. I was struggling to omit Judgement Day, A Small Killing, the Tom Strong books, the Bojeffries Saga or Maxwell The Magic Cat from that list.

Moore discovered Marvel Comics when he was about 8 and started collecting. That was much the same as me. It was my Marvels, D.C.s and other classics that I offloaded. The Fantastic Four, Thor, Sub-Mariner, The Justice League Of America and others of that ilk. Not without some regrets, but I’d rather that they were being used and enjoyed by someone else rather than taking up space in my cupboard. (Now, that does sound sentimental!)
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Re: Rathbone's Ramblin'

Postby rathbone » 22 Jul 2012, 07:26

I suppose for most of us the most famous comic book character is Superman. When I was around ten I started collecting Superman comics. It didn’t take long to discover the ‘bloopers’. The first edition of Superman was published in 1939 and was written by Jerry Siegel. Over the years there have been dozens of writers and some of them have lost track of the back story.

A few examples: Right at the beginning, back on Krypton, Superman’s mum and dad are called Jorl and Lora. By the late fifties they had become Jorel and Lara. Even his adopted parents on earth went through this transformation. Back in 1939 they were George and Mary Kent. By 1942 they were Eben and Sarah.

Then there was his job on the Daily Star with its editor George Taylor which mysteriously turned into a job at the Daily Planet under Perry White, with no explanation.

It’s also good fun tracking his superpowers. In the early 1940s he is only super strong and able to leap prodigiously from place to place. Suddenly in 1945 he is able to fly around in defiance of gravity. Artillery shells bounce off his chest and he has developed x-ray vision. Through the 1950s he adds heat vision and microscopic vision to his range and adds the powers of freeze breath and super-ventriloquism. By the 60s he has a photographic memory, can speak every known language and can withstand an atomic blast. In 1970 he is so strong that he can alter the Earth’s orbit just by pushing on it. As we know, all of these can be set at nought by the effects of Kryptonite.

Kryptonite first made its appearance in 1943. There has never been a proper explanation as to why kryptonite has such a devastating effect, or why the different colours of kryptonite have different effects. Most people know that green kryptonite causes superman the temporary loss of his powers and, if he is exposed to it for long, it can kill him. Less well known, but equally devastating are red kryptonite, which causes unpredictable mental changes; yellow which causes permanent loss of powers; black which splits him into two entities; blue which causes pain and white which kills all plant life.

Have you ever noticed the number of characters with the initials L.L.? Linda Lee; Lori Lemaris; Lana Lang; Lois Lane; Lex Luthor.

Ah, Lex. In 1939 he had a full head of red hair. By 1941 he was completely bald. In those early days he was slim and athletic. By the 1950s he was fat and dressed in business suits. By the 1970s he was slim and athletic again and wearing a fetching green and purple jumpsuit. Then, in 1981, he invented the extraterrestrial combat suit which enabled him to take on Superman on equal terms. What took him so long?

Lex is the archtype villain, but Superman’s a bit of a baddy himself. That super-hero persona conceals a nasty interior. Take what he did to his cousin Kara: 15 year old Kara has just lost her entire family and everyone she has ever known. Superman comes to her rescue and whisks her off to his ice palace on Earth. “I promise to take care of you like a big brother, Kara.” he tells her. The overjoyed girl girl throws her hands round his neck. ”You mean I’ll come and live with you!” “No,” he says, “You see, I’ve adopted a secret identity that you might jeopardise.” Instead he drops her off at a hell hole of an orphanage where she’s forced to wear a disguise and to deny any relationship with him under threat of dire consequences. What a bastard!
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